Lesson 5

Grammar – Questions

Unlike English, yes/no questions in Spanish are not usually formed by switching the position of subject and verb (if the subject is explicit). To recognize a sentence as affirmative or as a question one must pay attention to the intonation pattern. Unlike English, Spanish uses a reversed question mark (¿) at the beginning of a question:

Tú eres de México.You are from Mexico.
Eres de México.You are from Mexico.

become

¿Tú eres de México?Are you from Mexico?
¿Eres de México?Are you from Mexico?

For other type of questions Spanish uses the following question words (note that all of them have an accent in the word):

¿Cómo…? or ¿Qué…?How…? or What…?
¿Cuándo…?When…?
¿Cuánto…?How much…?
¿Cuántos…?How many…?
¿Dónde…?Where…?
¿Por qué…?Why…?
¿Quién…?Who…? (singular)
¿Quiénes…?Who…? (plural)

Here are some Spanish sentences where specific question words are used:

¿Cómo te llamas?What is your name? (Literally: How do you call yourself?)
¿Cuántos años tienes?How old are you? (Literally: How many years do you have?)
¿Dónde está el aeropuerto?Where is the airport?

Questions can also be posed within a sentence:

Y tú, ¿cuántos años tienes?How old are you? (Literally: And you, how many years do you have?)
Entonces, ¿por qué no puedo jugar con él?So, why can’t I play with him?



Grammar – Possessive Adjectives

Like English, the Spanish possessive adjectives differ depending on the person they are referring to. Unlike English, the possessive article also changes depending on the number of items that one possesses (for example: mi libro’ = my book, mis libros = my books). It can also change depending on the gender of the item (for example: nuestro perro = our dog, nuestra casa = our house). The following table summarizes all Spanish possessive adjectives:

PersonSingularPluralEnglish Examples
yomimismymi lápiz
tutusyour tu lápiz
élsu, de élsushissu lápiz, el lápiz de él
ellasu, de ellasus, de ellahersu lápiz, el lápiz de ella
ustedsu, de ustedsus, de ustedyoursu lápiz, el lápiz de usted
nosotros/nosotrasnuestro, nuestra, de nosotrosnuestros, nuestrasournuestro lápiz, el lápiz denosotros
vosotros/vosotrasvuestro, vuestravuestros, vuestrasyour vuestro lápiz
ellossu, de ellossus, de ellostheir su lápiz, el lápiz de ellos
ellassu, de ellassus, de ellastheirsu lápiz, el lápiz de ellas
ustedessu, de ustedessus, de ustedesyoursu lápiz, el lápiz de ustedes
  • Possessive Pronouns are not used when talking about body parts:
mi nariz (la nariz de él)my nose (his nose)
mi dedo (el dedo de él)my finger (his finger)
mis manos (las manos de él)my hands (his hands)
mis ojos (los ojos de él)my eyes (his eyes)

Exercise: Possessive Adjectives


Grammar – Comparisons

Equality

Spanish uses three slightly different constructions for comparisons of equality. One for comparing verbs, one for comparing nouns and one for comparing adjectives/adverbs. The following examples show the three different possibilities:

Alberto estudia tanto como Felicitas.Alberto studies as much as Felicitas.
Yo tengo tanto dinero como mi hermano.I have as much money as my brother.
La estudiante es tan inteligente como el profesor.The student is as intelligent as the teacher.

When comparing nouns, the ending of tanto will be modified to tanta, tantos, or tantas in order to match gender and quantity of the noun. The general pattern for comparisons of equality is the following:

{verb} tanto como{verb} as much as
tanto/a/os/as {noun} comoas much/as many {noun} as
tan {adjective/adverb} comoas {adjective/adverb} as

Inequality

For comparisons of inequality, Spanish uses the same form for both nouns and adjectives/adverbs. There are two types of inequalities: más … que (more than) and menos … que (less than):

Trabajo más horas que tú.I work more hours than you.
Trabajo menos horas que tú.I work less hours than you.
Tom Hanks es más famoso que Patrick Stewart.Tom Hanks is more famous than Patrick Stewart.
Patrick Stewart es menos famoso que Tom Hanks.Patrick Stewart is less famous than Tom Hanks.

In general:

más/menos {noun/adjective/adverb} quemore/less {noun/adjective/adverb} than

Superlatives

Superlatives in Spanish are similar to comparisons of inequality: They use más for the most, menos for the least. Then follows the adjective and finally there is a preposition (de):

Ricardo es el estudiante más alto de la universidad.Ricardo is the tallest student in the university.
Plutón es el planeta más pequeño del sistema solar.Pluto is the smallest planet in the solar system.
Los diamantes son las gemas más caras del mundo.Diamonds are the most expensive gems in the world.
María es la más inteligente de la clase.Maria is the most intelligent one in the class.
El libro de Jorge es el menos interesante de la clase.Jorge’s book is the least interesting book in the class.

Note that in some cases (la más inteligente) you can just write the article and omit the noun. The general pattern for Spanish superlatives is:

el/la/los/las ({noun}) más/menos {adjective} dethe (most/least){adjective} {noun} in/of



Vocabulario (Vocabulary) – La escuela (School)

La escuelaThe school
NombresNouns
el profesor, la profesorathe teacher, the professor
el maestro, la maestrathe primary school teacher
el rector, la rectorathe university president, the school principal
el colegiothe primary school (Spain), the K-12 school (Chile)
la escuelathe school (all senses), the primary School (Chile)
el institutothe secondary school (Spain)
el liceothe secondary school (Chile)
la preparatoriathe secondary school (Mexico)
la universidadthe university, the college
la bibliotecathe library
la libreríathe book store
el libro de textothe text book
el curso, la clasethe course, the class
el exámenthe final exam
los deberes, las tareas escolares, la tareathe homework
la actividad extracuricularthe extracurricular activity
el clubthe club
la ajedrezthe chess
la bandathe band
el equipothe team
el corothe choir
el fotografíathe photography
el teatrotheater
VerbosVerbs
Verbos
aprenderto learn
estudiarto study
leerto read
calcularto compute, to calculate
hacer un proyectoto do a project
preguntarto ask
contestarto answer
discutirto argue
AdjectivosAdjectives
fácileasy
difícildifficult
interesanteinteresting
aburrido, pesadoboring
inteligenteintelligent
estúpido, tontostupid, dumb, silly

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